Not sure I like the term “special needs” but I use it. What does it mean? Having a quick check on Wikipedia it depends on where you live in its definition! However, the country I like best in its interpretation is Germany where special needs children are called “besondere kinder” (“special children”). I like this term best – if I bother to check every country’s definition I may find something better, but for me now this sounds right. I know all children are “special” but for some of us parents the term has a real depth of meaning that perhaps others have not experienced? I have two beautiful children, one of which is diagnosed with ADHD/Aspergers with Dysgraphia and is Gifted! Yes he is truly VERY special. In fact he is one of the most amazing people in my life. In his 15 years of life he has struggled against a system that does not always recognise difference. He inspires me, constantly challenges me in both good and bad ways and is one of the kindest kids I know! If you let me, I would like to share some of our special journey.
He was born on a beautiful sunlit morning. I remember this little bundle of newness being handed to me swaddled in a blanket opening one wise eye and checking me out. What did this cute man’s future hold? My imaginings for our journey together were not really in tune with the reality as it turned out! He was a gorgeously cute baby (as they all are!) and made everyone smile. However, from a young age I knew that something was different about him. It was always his name I heard being called – called away from mischief mostly – not an intentional mischief – it just seemed to search him out! If he could find a way of doing something differently he would. If everyone was going left, he would be going right. If they were going up, he would be going down! He could get away with it whilst he was tiny but then once past being a toddler it became a diagnosed problem. Phone calls from day care, after school clubs, swim squad, holiday programmes – you name it – they would usually call me and tell me of some sort of problem they were having with him. It is not something that I would wish on any Mother. You want to be told good things about your child. You want your child to be liked. You want your child to be invited to birthday parties, play dates and other social gatherings. It hurts to hear the whispers, the judgmental looks. I always vowed that I would speak out for these kids when mine grew up. My son is growing up and doing well now. I did not always think this would be the case! It has taken a lot of hard work, commitment and a thick skin (of which I have very little!). The journey has at times been painful and I have cried many tears. However, I want parents to know that if your child is indeed “special” like mine there is light at the end of the tunnel if you work at it.
Don’t read all the doom and gloom books (or which there are many!) Don’t listen to every specialist without questioning their advice. I have often gone against the grain with the treatment of my son’s disabilities and trusted my mothering instinct. We do not take medication. I wanted my son to know himself as he is, not a medicated version. I wanted him to learn strategies to manage his behaviours. We have looked at diet. We do not do artificial additives. It helps! We drink plenty of water and get adequate sleep. It helps! We talk and discuss things, we share ideas and try to work as a team. Some say parents should not be their child’s friend. I am. It helps (or it has for me!).
I am so proud of my son and what he has achieved in spite of his disabilities. He is an avid Surf Lifesaver serving our local community. He is known in our neighbourhood for being a kid that will help someone in need, especially the sick and the elderly. Without doubt he is “special”. I hope that this blog gives strength to other Mothers who may sometimes feel so alone living with a child who is different. I have been abused and bullied because of my son’s differences. No Mother should have to endure that. Believe in yourself and your child and you too will see the light and when you do I hope that it shines as bright as the light I see now. Blessings to our “besondere kinder”